Want a data-powered blog? Try answering these 3 surprisingly simple questions
Without data, "decision" is a fancy word for "guess"
As the adage goes, If you can't track it, don't do it.
And yet, most of us prefer to operate our marketing based on intuition because thats more comfortable. Or as some call it, we like to commit “random acts of marketing.” We put effort into endeavors on which we cannot calculate the payout and then we repeat them.
Today, it’s time to break that cycle. Let’s figure out how to make your B2B blog more profitable and turn it from being a time-intensive sinkhole into a revenue-aligned marketing channel.
If you can answer these 3 questions with data, you’ll be well on your way:
1. Is my blog aligned with my business goals?
This is question number one: know why you write. You blog should be working for you otherwise you shouldn’t be working on it. Ask yourself, do you want to drive more sales leads? Develop a community? Empower existing customers? Figure that out, write it down, and then set goals to track your success towards it.
If you want leads, you should track:
- Overall blog visits
- Visitor to lead conversion rate (# of leads / # of visitors)
- Lead to customer conversion rate (# of customers / # of leads)
Knowing how many people visit your website, fill out your lead capture form, and actually convert to buying customers will focus your attention on what matters. Keep this top of mind and it will trickle down throughout everything else that you do and will help you optimize the content you write, the ways you promote it, and the results that come out of it.
2. Who are my readers?
If you haven’t given this any deep thought, it’s very likely that you are your own reader. That is, you’ve been writing for yourself. This isn’t all bad, especially if you’re truly enthusiastic about your category, but it can also expose you to the ever deadly curse of knowledge. This is when you know so much about something that you have trouble saying it simply.
This happens in every industry. Ever had a friend who is super into trucks insist that hemis are cool because a 5.7L one in a V8 magnum engine can produce 345 hp? Or ever had a friend in tech scoff about how their software is superior because it’s built on a no-SQL database? That’s what we’re talking about.
What makes sense to you may make no sense at all to your consumer, and it's your job to start simple and educate them.
By learning more about who your audience is and their level of understanding or comfort with your language you’ll make your blog for more inviting, readable, and shareable.
Here are some great metrics to track around this:
- Overall visits
- Bounce rates
- Blog page direct visits
- Traffic sources
- Inbound links
Knowing how many visitors arrive and how many bounces (a bounce is a visitor who leaves after viewing only 1 page) will tell you whether people understand your content quickly enough to become interested and stay. Direct blog page visits indicate that people are returning by typing your URL into their browser (as opposed to finding you through a search) which is a good sign that they like you enough to remember you. And of course, knowing where your traffic comes from and who is linking back to you tells you where you can go to learn more about your audience.
3. What do they want to hear?
Once you know your audience, tell ‘em what they want to hear. There may be certain topics that are near and dear to your heart but which the data confirms do not resonate. As fun as they may be to write, they’re detaching your blog from those business objectives that you’re trying so hard to stay aligned with.
To find out what they want to hear and stick to it, track these metrics on your individual posts:
- Number of views per post
- Top viewed posts
- Average views per post
- Average comments per post
Knowing what content performs best tells you what headlines draw people in and the number of comments or shares tell you how engaging it is. The results are often surprising. You’ll see that effort and effect are only loosely correlated - sometimes the hottest thing will have been the throwaway tweet that you scribbled down whereas your lowest performer was the big, dense post that took you three days to write.
Repeat what works and what is popular, especially if it's easier.
Putting it all together
And there you have it, you’re one step closer to a data-driven blog! By tracking these metrics and using them to figure out who your audience is and what they want to hear you’ll have a much easier time aligning your blog with business goals and deriving revenue from it.